Without our atmosphere, there would be no life on earth. Two gases make up the bulk of the earth's atmosphere: nitrogen (78%), and oxygen (21%). Argon, carbon dioxide and various trace gases make up the remainder.
Scientists divided the atmosphere into four layers according to temperature: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. The temperature drops as we go up through the troposphere, but it rises as we move through the next layer, the stratosphere. The farther away from earth, the thinner the atmosphere gets. 1.TROPOSPHERE
This is the layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth's surface, extending up to about 10-15 km above the Earth's surface. It contains 75% of the atmosphere's mass. The troposphere is wider at the equator than at the poles. Temperature and pressure drops as you go higher up the troposphere.
The Tropopause: At the very top of the troposphere is the tropopause where the temperature reaches a (stable) minimum. Some scientists call the tropopause a "thermal layer" or "cold trap" because this is a point where rising water vapour cannot go higher because it changes into ice and is trapped. If there is no cold trap, Earth would loose all its water!
Most of what we call weather occurs in the troposphere. The uneven heating of the regions of the troposphere by the Sun causes convection currents and winds. Warm air from Earth's surface rises and cold air above it rushes in to replace it. When warm air reaches the tropopause, it cannot go higher as the air above it (in the stratosphere) is warmer and lighter ... preventing much air convection beyond the tropopause. The tropopause acts like an invisible barrier and is the reason why most clouds form and weather phenomena occur within the troposphere. The Greenhouse Effect: Heat from the Sun warms the Earth's surface but most of it is radiated and sent back into space. Water vapour and carbon dioxide in the troposphere trap some of this heat, preventing it from escaping...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document